Who Am I?   YWJ Roundtable on Identity   by Jen Bradbury

“Who am I?” is one of the most basic and difficult questions humans must answer. Dozens of factors influence how we answer this question, and our answers impact every aspect of our lives, including faith, vocation and family.

Young people begin wrestling in earnest with identity questions during adolescence. That’s why youth workers need to understand the process of identity formation. To help us navigate the confusing and ever-changing issue of identity, we spoke with three youth ministry veterans.

An ordained United Methodist Pastor, Kenda Creasy Dean is a professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she works closely with the Institute for Youth Ministry. Kenda’s a sought-after speaker and author of several books, including the highly acclaimed, Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church.

Steve Gerali is a speaker, author, professor, clinical counselor, consultant and mentor. Despite being an expert in the field of adolescence, mentoring and youth ministry, what he most wants to be remembered for is his character—his identity in Christ. Steve explores the character traits that comprise identity in Christ in his novel The Crest.

As vice president of training at Young Life, Ken Knipp devotes his time to helping youth workers form healthy identities so they can help young people do the same. Ken also serves on the advisory council of Fuller Youth Institute.

YouthWorker Journal: One of the primary tasks of adolescence is identity formation. What is identity and how is it formed?

Steve Gerali: Identity is the culmination of how a person sees him or herself based on the input of people around him or her, as well as God’s perspective toward the person. A teen’s identity is formed by his or her perception of what people think of him or her. The kid who’s constantly told he’s stupid forms an identity around that. That’s why it’s important to tell kids how God sees them.

Ken Knipp: Identity is who I am in relationship to people. My sense of identity depends on how much power I have to influence my life and make choices. It’s also about my sense of belonging to a family. We hear a lot about the influence of peers in the formation of identity, but parents are also important.

Kenda Creasy Dean: Identity is our sense of who we are—biologically, socially, culturally, psychologically and spiritually. Teenagers form identity the way everyone does: They reflect the messages about themselves they’re getting from culture, their physical environment, families, communities and their own bodies. James Fowler describes the process from a teenager’s perspective as follows: “I see you see me. I see the me I think you see.” For the church to be absent from that process is a lethal sin of omission.

YWJ: How do ethnicity and sexuality influence identity?

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Creating a Unified Team   by Kurt Johnston & Josh Griffin

Written for Youth Groups, but it applies!!

Gossip is destructive, so let’s fight back! The best way to stop gossip is right where it starts – with your team and with the people you influence. Here are a few things we’ve learned about how to create unity and continue the uphill battle against gossip.

People who are informed are less likely to gossip.
 Oftentimes ignorance can create a breeding ground for gossip. When you keep people in the dark, sometimes their mind plays tricks on them. They read into a situation or conversation, and the lack of communication creates gaps they gladly fill with their own speculation or opinion. If you want to create a unified team, keep people in the loop! When you communicate well, you crush the early growth of gossip. 

People who have great history have unity. 
If you have a few key volunteers who have been with you since the beginning, you know how sweet it is to be with them, serve alongside them, and do the hard work of ministry together. You literally and figuratively have each other’s backs, and unity is your middle name. On the other hand, when you have high turnover or a collection of young, immature, or inexperienced youth workers serving with you the total opposite can happen. If you want to know the joys of a gossip-free team, work harder than ever to keep them around for a long time.

People who laugh rarely turn on each other.
 We’ve noticed again and again in our years of youth ministry trench warfare that when people laugh together, they love each other more. When you are in relationship with your people – great stories, memories and inside jokes – the stronger you are together. When was the last time you spent some time just playing with your team? When was the last time you had an awards ceremony and gave out awards for everyone? Laugh together and unity quickly follows.

A Response by Paul Spittka

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12 Questions to Ask Your Teenager  by Jonathan McKee                                                  For original article click here.

Here’s 12 questions you can ask your teenager, that usually won’t get one-word responses:

  1. Tell me about the funniest YouTube or online video you’ve seen recently.
  2. If you and I could spend $100 today, not buying anything, just spending it on food or entertainment, what would you want to spend it on? (if you really wanna sweeten the deal, pull out $100 and go hang out with them)
  3. If you could fast forward your life to after college right now and choose any job for yourself, what would you choose?
  4. Why would you choose that job?
  5. What do you think you would need to do this week, this year… to get that job in the future?
  6. If you could change one rule or guideline in this house, what would you change, and why?
  7. How would this house change in the next year without that rule?
  8. What is the last thing you cried about?
  9. What finally made it better?
  10. What is the best news you could hear right now?
  11. What is the worst?
  12. What question do you wish someone would ask you… and who?


2012’s Biggest Tunes   by Jonathan McKee

Thirteen songs made it to the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart this year, and many of them gave teenagers plenty to resonate with…both good and bad.

For original article click here.

We Found Love (Rihanna, featuring Calvin Harris)

Sexy and I Know It (LMFAO)

Set Fire to the Rain (Adele)

Stronger (Kelly Clarkson)

Part of Me (Katy Perry)

We Are Young (fun.)

Somebody That I Used to Know (Goyte featuring Kimbra)

Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepsen)

Whistle (Flo Rida)

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor Swift)

One More Night (Maroon 5)

Diamonds (Rihanna)

Locked Out of Heaven (Bruno Mars)

Honorable Mentions:

Gangnam Style by Psy.

What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction


Student CBS Leaders and Students:

Before your new year becomes chaotic and overwhelming, consider being intentional with a few things.  Whether you call them resolutions or simply refocusing, my prayer is that we all walk out what God longs for us to do and be.

Listed below is a snap shot of what I mean when I encourage you to be intentional on this new start.  I truly believe that no matter what community you are invested in or stage of life you find yourself, all of us can engage in these areas.

First, Stay in God’s Word:  I want to encourage you to stay connected to God’s Word individually and in community.  If you are a student, you are asked and even demanded to think, reason, and explore so many things.  If you are an adult, you are expected to know answers and have it together.  Let me remind you this…God’s Word changes lives and takes us place we cannot go on our own.  Will you take a minute or two daily to explore and use your mind and heart here?  May you allow Him to influence your life through His written Word.
Listen and talk to God:  Prayer truly is a gift, and my hope is that you see prayer as connecting to the God who loves you more than you or I could possible know or grasp.  Prayer is also an opportunity to truly think about and serve others.  Prayer was never meant to be a formula, empty ritual, or etiquette.  If you are interested in praying for and/or with someone, let’s talk.
Be a mentor:  This is huge!  I will say it again, this is Huge!   I really believe God does more in your faith and life when you are serving others.  Allow God to use you to teach, encourage, influence, and inspire others.  If you are interesting in being a role model for a kid or need help while mentoring another student or peer, let’s talk. Continue reading


Mom’s iPhone contract livens debate on teched-up teens    by Leanne Italie / AP         http://www.pressherald.com/life/moms-iphone-contract-livens-debate-on-teched-up-teens-_2013-01-08.html

To see the contract click here.

NEW YORK — Janell Burley Hofmann honored her 13-year-old son’s “maturity and growth” at Christmas with his first iPhone, but it came with strings attached.

Eighteen strings, to be exact, in a written code of conduct that placed the mommy blogger at the center of the debate over how parents should handle technology in the hands of their teens, especially younger ones just entering the frenetic world of social networks and smartphones.

Thousands of people, including those bemoaning too much helicopter parenting, commented and shared the funny, heartfelt agreement posted by the Sandwich, Mass., mother of five. The interest crashed her website and led her to appear with her eldest, Gregory, on morning TV.

Hofmann’s first order of business: “1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?”

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5 Things We Will Wish We’d Done Differently   by R. Eric Tippin      http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/5-things-millennials-will-wish-theyd-done-differently

What habits and weaknesses might this generation see a little more clearly down the road?

It’s never fun when you are young to think about growing old and feeble. That time of life seems ages away, hazy and irrelevant to twenty-somethings in the prime of life and health. Alas, the truth remains, unless the FDA approves a magical elixir of youth and wonder, we have no option but to age, lose our hair and hearing and start using words like, “youngsters” and “fiddlesticks.” But, when sinful humans with consciences age, they accumulate something other than wrinkles—namely, regrets. Inevitably, we who are young will someday be old and look back to younger days and say, “Fiddlesticks! I regret some things about my life as a youngster (coughing fit).” Though these regrets are an inevitable part of being human, they can be predicted and, with a little determination, limited. The hope is that, years from now, when you are sipping V8, playing Bocce Ball, wearing a knit cardigan and reminiscing with your friends in “the home,” you never find yourself saying any of the following:

1. “Most of my spare time was sacrificed to social media.”

Collectively, Americans spend 100,000 years on Facebook every month. (Don’t tell Einstein, but it looks like the space-time continuum has been broken.) That means the average Facebook user chooses to spend six and a half hours of his or her month feeding Zuckerberg’s chubby brain child. Add Twitter, Pinterest and other social sites and multiple days of the year disappear like Facebook’s stock value in May. These are lost days that could be spent learning an instrument, writing, cooking experimentally, praying or even having coffee with an old friend.

Undoubtedly there are exciting, constructive uses for Facebook, Twitter and the other platforms, but there is a colossal difference between building relationships through social media and replacing them with social media. When you’ve spent twenty minutes on Facebook, are you satisfied deeply and are your relationships strengthened or are you just letting it fill the passing time—one of our most precious resources? Because time wasted now will be time regretted later.

2. “I knew more about celebrities than I did about my neighbors.”

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What the Tech World Looks Like to a Teen   by Josh Miller             http://www.buzzfeed.com/joshmiller/what-the-tech-world-looks-like-to-a-teen

A few months ago, my fifteen-year-old sister told me that Snapchat was going to be the next Instagram. Many months before that she told me that Instagram was being used by her peers as much as Facebook. Both times I snickered.

Learning from past mistakes, I took some time over the holiday break to ask my sister many, many questions about how her and her friends are using technology. Below I’ve shared some of the more interesting observations about Instragram, Facebook, Instant Messaging, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, and FaceTime. I hope you’ll find them as informative, surprising, and humbling as I did.


Looking at her Instagram feed, I noticed that the vast majority of photos were of people – not beautiful views, objects, or experiences. This is in stark contrast to what the people I follow on Instagram take photos of, and very analogous to the photos that appear in my Facebook Newsfeed.     My takeaway: Facebook was smart to buy Instagram.


She mentioned that she tries to visit Facebook as infrequently as possible. “It’s addicting,” she bemoaned, “you end up getting lost in it and I don’t like that.” I found this perspective interesting. Facebook is clearly doing a good job delivering relevant content, yet its users (at least this one) feel poorly when they use the service. Related, she mentioned that she only visits Facebook after her Instagram Feed updates have been exhausted.                  My takeaway: Facebook may have an irreversibly bad brand.

Instant Message  Continue reading


A Promise To Live By by John Piper                   http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/a-promise-to-live-by

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

There is no verse in the Bible I have used more often to strengthen my hand for a frightening task. It is my default promise. It is the whir of the gears of my brain when they are in neutral. It has served me for decades like no other verse. It has strengthened me for traveling to strange places, speaking a foreign language, taking doctoral exams, interviewing for jobs, preaching to big crowds, facing cancer surgery, making undesired phone calls, and saying I’m sorry.

It is the most common first T in APTAT — my way of walking by the Spirit. When I face a challenge, I walk through APTAT: A — Admit I can’t do anything without Christ. P — Pray for help to do it. T — Trust a specific promise of God to help me (Isaiah 41:10!). A — Act. T — Thank him when I’m done.

One of the reasons this verse is so helpful is that it is not about God in the third person (“he will”), but by God in the first person (“I will”). Every time I say it, I hear him talking directly and personally to me. This is enormously powerful. It is as if he were standing right here and saying, “Go ahead, do what you have to do. I will help you. Yes, I will. I will give you strength. I will hold you up.”

Another reason it is so helpful is that it is general and sweeping. “I will help you” fits every situation. I need help all the time. All the time! This promise is perfect, therefore, all the time. There is no situation where it is not needed.

Another reason it’s helpful is that it closes with a reference to God’s nature: his righteousness. “I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God’s righteousness is his unwavering commitment to act for his glory. He never swerves from that course. Therefore, where his name is at stake, he can be counted on to act with zeal. That is a warrant for faith. It has helped me hundreds of times.

Finally, this promise is helpful because it is valid for me, a Gentile, even though it was made to Jews. That’s because all the promises of God are Yes in Messiah Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). This means it’s mine because of the gospel. Christ died to make this promise true for all who are in him. By faith I am in him. So this promise, and all the promises, are mine. God will be as faithful to this promise, and this child, as he is to his crucified and risen Son. It is that sure.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.